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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
President Barack Obama's plan to boost the economy with $50 billion of infrastructure spending encountered bipartisan criticism Thursday from Missouri's leading U.S. Senate candidates.
Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Republican Rep. Roy Blunt are fond of highlighting their disagreements, but both were dismissive of Obama's latest spending plan for highways, rail, airports and other infrastructure.
"The $50 billion proposal doesn't seem like a practical way to solve what is a huge problem in our country with this continuing high levels of unemployment and lagging economic activity," Carnahan told The Associated Press.
In a separate interview, Blunt called Obama's infrastructure plan "purely political."
"I don't think the $50 billion is really meaningful," Blunt said. "If he wanted to spend $50 billion, he could spend it out of the stimulus money" that was included in a $814 billion package approved last year by the Democratic-led Congress.
The new infrastructure spending was one prong of an economic plan outlined by Obama earlier this week. Two other parts would expand and extend a tax credit for research and development that had expired in 2009, and allow businesses to write off 100 percent of their investments in plants and equipment through 2011.
Carnahan and Blunt expressed support for those two tax break proposals Thursday.
But Blunt said the accelerated write-off for capital investments should extend longer than 2011 to have a significant economic impact. He said the tax break for business research and development expenses should be made permanent.
Carnahan said Obama's proposed business tax breaks should be paid for by ending existing policies that allow companies to delay or avoid paying U.S. income taxes on profits earned by their foreign subsidiaries. She said that serves as incentives to move American jobs overseas.
Blunt and Carnahan are competing to succeed Republican Sen. Kit Bond, who is retiring after 24 years.
Asked Thursday about Obama's latest economic proposal, Bond said he had not seen the details but was skeptical of the intent. He cited a newspaper headline about Obama criticizing Republicans while announcing the plan.
"I have a strong suspicion, the way he announced it, that it's going to be a little tough to swallow," Bond said.